CHAN 10205 CHANDOS G Worksfor G GRAINGER · PDF file band music. Amongst Grainger’s many...

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Transcript of CHAN 10205 CHANDOS G Worksfor G GRAINGER · PDF file band music. Amongst Grainger’s many...

  • G Works for Solo Piano 3

    CHAN 10205





    Works for

    Solo Piano 3


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    Percy Grainger (1882–1961)

    Lullaby from ‘Tribute to Foster’ 5:15

    One More Day, My John [SCS No. 1] 1:47 Preliminary Canter

    A Bridal Lullaby 2:16

    Knight and Shepherd’s Daughter [BFMS No. 18] 2:35 Lincolnshire Folksong

    Children’s March ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’ 1:25

    premiere recording Bridal Lullaby Ramble 6:47

    Spoon River [AFMS No. 1] 2:21 American Folk-Dance

    Ramble on the Last Love-Duet from Strauss’s ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ [FSFM No. 4] 6:50

    Danish Folk-Music Suite 15:44 The Power of Love [DFMS No. 2] 3:47 Transcribed by Penelope Thwaites The Nightingale and The Two Sisters [DFMS No. 10] 3:20 Jutish Medley [DFMS No. 8] 8:2411











    Percy Grainger

    T he

    P er

    cy G

    ra in

    ge r

    So ci

    et y/

    E st

    at e

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    premiere recording in this version Country Gardens [BFMS No. 22] 1:17

    The Immovable Do 4:00 or ‘The Cyphering C’

    Beautiful Fresh Flower 1:55 Chinese Melody

    Now, Oh Now I Needs Must Part [FSFM No. 6] 4:00 TT 75:49

    Penelope Thwaites piano

    SCS – Sea Chanty Settings BFMS – British Folk Music Settings AFMS – American Folk Music Settings FSFM – Free Settings of Favourite Melodies DFMS – Danish Folk Music Settings






    To a Nordic Princess 6:19 Bridal Song

    Blithe Bells 3:55

    premiere recording in this version Walking Tune 0:54 from The Easy Grainger

    Lullaby from ‘Tribute to Foster’ 3:40 from The Easy Grainger

    Proud Vesselil [DFMS Unnumbered] 1:03 from The Easy Grainger

    Rimmer and Goldcastle [DFMS Unnumbered] 0:35 from The Easy Grainger

    premiere recording in this version Irish Tune from County Derry 1:26 from The Easy Grainger








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    texture, and end with floating chromatic harmonies – suggesting (according to a note to the performer) an Aeolian harp.

    Grainger’s experience as bandsman in the US army (1917–18) was happy and fruitful, producing several outstanding works for the medium of wind band. The Children’s March ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’ (1916–18) is one. In the original version (and in the later one for two pianos) the nursery rhyme theme is put through increasingly violent variations, finally dying away. The brief solo piano version is simply the theme from the longer work.

    When in 1918 Grainger realised that he might be sent on overseas service, he made a number of informal piano roll recordings, most of which have lain unheard in the Grainger Museum. With the help of the expert Denis Condon it became possible to transfer these recordings onto tape, and it was exciting to discover that A Bridal Lullaby had been developed into a longer work. Grainger recorded two possible versions, the more convincing of which has been chosen for this CD with the explanatory title Bridal Lullaby Ramble. Some of the material intersects with that of his two-piano work Warriors 2. The florid piano writing belies the sadness behind the piece, and in a

    paradox, typical of Grainger but not always appreciated (cf. Sir Thomas Beecham’s point- missing words on Colonial Song), the overt sentimentality is absolutely genuine. Indeed, it could be argued that such directness is precisely what gives the piece its full-blooded emotional impact. And Grainger always did know (as well the virtuoso might) just how to make his instrument expressive.

    Spoon River (from Bradford, Illinois) is the only American folk-tune Grainger set. It was sent to him in 1915 but it was not until 1919 that he began a setting for ensemble and/or two pianos. The shorter solo piano version appeared in January 1922. Grainger had read and admired the poet Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River Anthology and aimed to reflect its realism about outback life in the ‘“pioneer” persistency’ of his setting.

    30 April 1922 was a watershed. The relationship between Percy and his mother, Rose, had been particularly close. Her suicide on that day had as profound an effect on him as, until then, her life. His Ramble on the Last Love-Duet from Strauss’s ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ was begun well before her death, although not finally completed and dedicated to her memory until 1927. By that time his emotional life – in suspense since the suicide trauma – had begun again. In


    In 1913, encouraged no doubt by the success of his compositions at London’s Balfour Gardiner concerts the previous year, Grainger began sketching his Tribute to Foster, a huge work for chorus, orchestra, solo piano and musical glasses. Its large tuneful percussion component was inspired by his encounter with Indonesian gamelan. The use of Campdown Races paid tribute both to Stephen Foster, the American composer, and to Grainger’s mother. In his own lyrics he recalls her singing it to him as a lullaby in the ‘Adelaide Town’ of his boyhood. He later improvised a solo piano work, Lullaby from ‘Tribute to Foster’, based on the central section of the orchestral work and mirroring the original musical-glass effects in a series of atmospheric tremolandi (‘woggles’). On the score, printed from his Duo-Art piano roll improvisation, he directs:

    This Lullaby is a sound-study to be solved by each player… in his or her own way… and is not intended to be followed slavishly, note for note.

    For Grainger the key of F sharp major was always associated with dreams, romance,

    longing. One More Day, My John (1915) reaches back to 1906 when the sea shanty collector Charles Rosher sang it to him. The swinging rhythm is to be played ‘with a somewhat wafted far-away lilt’. The F sharp major mood dominated many of the pieces he wrote shortly after he and his mother had moved to New York. Although the younger country suited him (and he was adored there as a pianist) Grainger never lost touch with his friends in England and Scandinavia, and there were many journeys to and fro, as well as to Australia. Again, nostalgia pervades A Bridal Lullaby (1916), written for his former lover, the Danish Karen Holten, upon her marriage. Grainger worked the theme into a number of works, including The Warriors and Green Bushes.

    The dedicatee of Knight and Shepherd’s Daughter (1918), Howard Brockway, was much admired by Grainger for his settings of Kentucky folksongs. The charming Lincolnshire tune, collected in 1906, is decorated with strophic variations. These incorporate Grainger’s favourite device of placing a tune in the middle of the

    Grainger: Works for Solo Piano 3

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    set about producing collections arranged for amateurs and students. They included pieces short enough not to be too daunting, yet still offering useful challenges in the voicing of chords and strands, in playing well-sprung rhythms, and in producing shapely phrases and a singing tone. In The Easy Grainger collection, for example, his Scottish-inspired Walking Tune appears without large stretches, and the Lullaby from ‘Tribute to Foster’ is shorn of its complicated figuration, though still remaining atmospheric. Two Danish tunes, Proud Vesselil and Rimmer and Goldcastle, make characterful, if brief, appearances. The Irish Tune from County Derry, designed for a smaller hand, still demands sensitive balancing of lines. The ‘especially easy’ Country Gardens heard here was published as a separate piece, with a perky coda thrown in for good measure.

    Grainger’s stubborn loyalty to the harmonium was sorely tested when in 1933 the note ‘C’ on his instrument became stuck. But the solution was to write a piece that could be played against the lingering note: hence The Immovable Do. Listeners are invited to try this out for themselves!

    By 1935 Grainger’s time was largely occupied with work on building and equipping his Museum and in the promotion


    1926 he had met the Swedish Ella Viola Ström who in 1928 was to become his wife. It is intriguing that the opera he chose for this paraphrase should enclose his mother’s name, and that the story should revolve around an older woman relinquishing her young lover to a younger woman. Embroidering Strauss’s lush themes with passages of wonderful spangled writing, Grainger emerges as a true exponent of the ‘virtuoso as composer’ tradition.

    His first move following his mother’s death was to travel to Denmark for a long- planned folksong collecting visit to Jutland with the venerable Evald Tang Kristensen. The life-affirming quality of the singers and their music, described by Grainger in his introduction to the Danish Folk-Music Suite, inspired a work of rollicking variety. In its version for orchestra and piano the Suite was to become a favourite performance vehicle. The tragic feeling in Grainger’s setting of ‘The Power of Love’ (a dark tale of love and murder) makes the dedication to Rose all the more poignant. The tunes of ‘The Nightingale’ and ‘The Two Sisters’ are woven into one haunting piece. In the ‘Jutish Medley’ we traverse the cheerful ‘Choosing t